Int J Environ Res Public Health 19 (12) - [2022-06-08; online 2022-06-08]
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to significantly increase the prevalence of mental health problems, thus raising the need for psychological support interventions around the world. Online psychological interventions have already been shown to be an effective solution to promote psychological treatments. Nevertheless, planning and developing an online intervention, involving possible stakeholders, might facilitate the dissemination of, willingness to use, and success of the future intervention. This study aims to explore and compare the experiences that Italians living in Italy and abroad had with available support services during the COVID-19 pandemic, their needs, and attitudes, as well as possible barriers to online psychological interventions. A sample of 1024 Italians (F = 69.8%; mean age = 41.3; SD = 15.3) was recruited through social media platforms and personal contacts and they were asked to complete an online survey. Results showed that perceived psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic improved. In Europe, psychological support was delivered mainly in person (69.0%), while online interventions were primarily used in extra-European countries (57%). Then, only 44% of the total sample was interested in trying an online psychological intervention. Various advantages and disadvantages were defined by stakeholders: The main advantages were the reduction in geographical distances, economic reasons, and the reduction in the waiting list; The main disadvantages were problems with technology, low motivation of users, and privacy/safety reasons. These data made it possible to improve the knowledge regarding the views and attitudes that Italians have about online psychological interventions, and shed light on how to increase the uptake of digital health.